This week, we are celebrating our amazing AmeriCorps members during AmeriCorps Appreciation Week! All of our AmeriCorps members are getting things done on playgrounds across the Bay Area and they all have truly unique and inspiring stories. Here’s a story from Silicon Valley AmeriCorps Coach, Joe, who goes above and beyond to support a family at his school.
Whether being reminded of the rules of a game or finding opportunities to develop self-confidence, kids need support at recess. One student in particular, whom I will call Alex, is on many different medications due to health issues which cause him to lose his appetite. This child's mother comes to school every day to bring him his lunch and encourages him to eat, but it doesn't always help.
As a Playworks coach, I'm a role model to Alex since he sees me out playing games at recess. In an effort to help his mother, I explained to Alex how we get energy from eating and if he wants to learn to play as best as he can, he needs the right nutrition. He really grasped onto that idea but still struggled with his lack of appetite. Going one step further, I decided to make a trade with Alex at lunch; for every bite he takes, he receives a special high-five from me.
Every day I come out and ask him and his mother how many high-fives he has earned, and I give him his reward. This has helped his eating habits immensely. After lunch, I talk with his mother about his behavior at recess. I let her know how he has grown or how he has struggled a little more than usual. His medication changes routinely and so does his mood as a result. Giving his mother those daily check-ins has helped her understand how the medicine has affected him that day.
Being able to help Alex and his family in any way possible with this daily struggle is reward enough for me as those high-fives are for him.
Thank you, Coach Joe, for your dedication to every student!
Interested in becoming a Playworks AmeriCorps member? Learn more!